Yep! The Lee-thal Weapon still has it
(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
One team is entering the new season under a new team with the hopes of bringing something new to the league. The other team is hoping to begin anew as they were coming off one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Despite missing key players to injury, the Magnolia Hotshots were able to rely on their defense to win their first game of the season against the Alaska Aces, 108-95.
The game started off slow for both teams as the Alaska Aces held a 6-5 edge with 3 minutes into the game.A few possessions and fouls later, the Magnolia Hotshots were already down 17-8 as Jvee Casio knocked down a three-pointer, forcing Chito Victolero to call a timeout with under 6 minutes left in the first quarter.
After a Mark Barroca basket. Jeron Teng completed a three-point play on the other end to give the Aces a 10-point lead. The Hotshots were visibly struggling as they were also dealing with the absences of their key players due to injury. Despite their sluggish start, Magnolia was able to stay close after Paul Lee drained a buzzer-beating trey to make it 26-21 at the end of the first quarter.
The Chickens Started Flying in the Second Quarter
After all, the Magnolia Hotshots are the "Pambansang Manok", right? Just when the Aces were beginning to re-establish a double-digit lead, the Hotshots clamped down on D and went on a scoring run to make 35-30 with 9 minutes to play in the first half. Two consecutive inside baskets have finally enabled the Hotshots to take the lead, 36-35.
Magnolia was able to slash into the sloppy defense of Alaska as their lead extended to 8 points, at 50-42 with under 3 minutes to play in the quarter. Kyle Pascual nailed a free throw later to give the Hotshots a 10-point lead as he added another lay-up to make it 56-44. The Hotshots walked into their locker with a 10-point advantage, at 57-47- thanks to their improved field goal shooting which was 55% for the first half and their defense which limited Alaska to only 2 for 10 shooting from the three-point line.
The Beast got Unleashed Early in the Third. BUT
Calvin Abueva scored 8 points in the opening minutes of the second quarter to bring down the deficit to 6 points only for Magnolia to bring it back to 9 on a three-point shot. An offensive putback by Ian Sangalang put the Hotshots at 70-59 with under 7 minutes to play as the Aces were slowly fading anew.
As turnovers and defensive lapses began to pile up, the Aces saw themselves down by 14 points after Mark Barroca added another inside shot. Add Alaska's inability to get the defensive rebounds to their woes plus an injury on the big man, Vic Manuel. Paul Lee later drained a long bomb to put Magnolia by 15 points as PJ Simon added another trey to make it 87-671 heading into the final two minutes of the third quarter. Both teams entered the final quarter with Magnolia holding an 87-74 lead.
The Aces Tried to Come Back. Tried
The Aces got within 11 points in the first 2 minutes of the 4th quarter thanks to their aggressiveness. Carl Cruz's basket pushed the lead down to 9 only to watch Robert Herdon complete a 3-point play to stop the Hotshots' bleeding. Another three, this time from Justin Melton brought the lead back up to 16, at 97-81.
The lead went down to as low as 8 points with under 4 minutes to play as Alaska forced Magnolia to difficult shots and took advantage of their opportunities on the break. That was before Paul Lee hit another three to make it a double-digit lead again. From that point on, Magnolia slowly wasted away the clock as Robert Herndon added another basket to put the game away.
The Numbers: The Good and the Ugly
Paul Lee scored 30 points off the bench to go along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Riego Gamalinda added 15 points while Ian Sangalang chipped in 13. Magnolia shot better from the field all game long, making 51% of their shot attempts while limiting Alaska to only 46% field goal shooting. Magnolia also forced 22 turnovers.
Calvin Abueva had 20 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists for the Aces but also had 5 of the 22 turnovers of Alaska. Vic Manuel also had 20 points while Jeron Teng added 16 points in his debut.
MAGNOLIA 108 - Lee 30, Gamalinda 15, Sangalang 13, Dela Rosa 10, Simon 9, Herndon 9, K. Pascual 9, Barroca 6, Melton 3, Ramos 2, Brondial 2.
ALASKA 95 - Abueva 20, Manuel 20, Teng 16, Casio 10, R. Pascual 7, Enciso 5, Exciminiano 5, Banchero 4, Thoss 3, J. Pascual 2, Cruz 2, Magat 1, Racal 0.
21-26, 57-47, 87-74, 108-95.